From playing soccer for Cranbrook Kingswood to the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, Alexi Lalas attributes his success in his career and life to Cranbrook.
By Alexa Caccamo
Photography by Derrick Martinez
After years traveling the world for his professional soccer career, Alexi Lalas returned to Cranbrook Kingswood this month as an alumni speaker.
Before entering the world of Major League Soccer, Lalas, a 48-year-old Birmingham native, was a student at Cranbrook Kingswood where he achieved a great deal throughout his academic and athletic career. He captained the school’s hockey team and won the state championship, performed with Cranbrook’s men’s choir group the Mastersingers, won the school talent show with his rock band and was a defender and team captain for the sport he’s known for: soccer.
After graduating from Cranbrook in 1988, Lalas continued his soccer career when he received a scholarship to attend Rutgers University in New Jersey.
At the Sirchio Lecture, titled “Raising the Voice of American Soccer,” Lalas said he gained life lessons at Cranbrook that he took to college.
“You learn about responsibility, and as you get older there’s more responsibility and people are counting on you,” Lalas said in an interview with SEEN before the lecture. “Your success is dictated by how responsible you are and how reactive you are to whatever situation — whether it would be homework, getting to class on time, waking up on time and all the different things that we learn that either we haven’t done because we’re younger or we haven’t done because somebody else has done them for us. All of that stuff starts and started for me at Cranbrook.”
After playing soccer for Rutgers, Lalas joined the U.S. soccer team for the 1992 Summer Olympics. From there, many doors opened for Lalas. He became the first American soccer player to play in Italy’s Serie A, played in two FIFA World Cups, joined Major League Soccer in 1995 and participated in the 1996 Olympics. Lalas says he contributes all his success to Cranbrook.
“Cranbrook is something that I carry with me all the time,” he says. “The growth that I had as a human being, I contribute it back to my experiences at this school in not just the soccer playing but the education. Cranbrook is a piece of me that will never go away.”
Retiring from professional soccer in 2004, Lalas now resides in Los Angeles with his family and has pursued other ventures within the sports world. He is a soccer analyst and commentator for Fox Sports and a motivational speaker.
If there is one thing Lalas would tell a young Cranbrook student athlete, or any student who dreams of making it in professional soccer, is to realize that the key to success in the sport is balance and how to live your life well outside of the game.
“I would tell a young athlete that while we concentrate in a soccer game where it lasts for 90 minutes, we concentrate so much on being better in that 90 minutes, and that’s fine, but you have to recognize that you are going to have to live the other 22 and a half hours of the day,” he said. “I believe that to the extent that you can help yourself acquire the knowledge and the tools to be able to live that other 22 and a half hours, ultimately that is going to make you better in that 90 minutes.”